Our week in Cyprus was an amazing one! I am certainly a big fun of “out of season” holidays for two reasons – it is reasonably cheap and less crowded. Since our trip to Portugal in 2009 in October, we do not book our leave during July and August, rather opting for June as you will get the longest nights in the year or September/October as the weather is still pleasant and the sea warm. But November has its pluses too – one of them being salt lakes and flamingos in Cyprus!
Cyprus has two salt lakes – one is located near Limassol and the other near Larnaca airport. I have read that wild flamingos are visiting both lakes so we decided to see if we are able to spot them. The lake near Limassol offered us a tiny pink line in a distance but Larnaca gave us a great possibility to see the flamingos wandering around in search for food and I was able to steal a few great shots!
Flamingos are spending the winter months on the lake and feed while the lake is filling up with water. There is a legend which explains the saltiness in a water – apparently St. Lazarus asked about some food and drink an old women, but she refused saying that her vines had dried up. Lazarus responded – “May your vines be dry and be a salt lake forever more”. However there is a different explanation, less mysterious – the salt water penetrates the porous rock between the lake and the sea, making the water very salty.
Near the salt lake in Larnaca a mosque – Hala Sultan Tekke – can be found. Its location is beautiful and the story even more interesting.
Apparently Muhammad’s parental aunt who was with her husband in 649 in Cyprus, was attacked by Byzantine forces, fell from her mule and died breaking her neck during the fall. Her grave is inside the mosque.
The mosque complex itself was built in a series of stages in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. A shrine was built by Sheikh Hassan in A.D 1760. Later, the mosque was constructed in its present form around A.D 1816/17.
I love religious buildings and it does not really matter for me which religion – they are beautiful and often free to explore. This mosque is open during Summer from 7.30 am to sunset and during Winter from 9.00 am to sunset. Admission is free, but if you feel like it you can leave a donation, it will be greatly appreciated.